Monday, December 22, 2008

"The True Meaning of Christmas"

The title of this post is in quotes because I'm quoting one of the stories you always see on TV and in newspapers this time of year. Every year around this time, every TV station and newspaper I have ever seen or read has a story about people helping other, less fortunate, people. It's nice to see or read these stories. I like the fact that people go out of their way to help other people. I like the fact that people in need are being helped. I like the fact that we see right then that peoples' lives can be improved - if only for a short time. Then comes the part I disapprove of - the announcer or writer states that, "This story illustrates the true meaning of Christmas."

No, this is not the true meaning of Christmas. What it illustrates is something we should all be doing all year long. What it illustrates is people in need being helped who may be back in bad shape the next day. What it illustrates if that, in a country as rich and capable as ours, there are still people in need and they can only be helped by individuals or small groups who, at this particular time, are willing and able to help those people. The unfortunate people being helped at this time of the year have probably needed help for a long time and will need steady help for a while before they can get back on their feet.

There are other people who are against any kind of organized help for the unfortunate people other than by private groups or individuals. There are people who think that any organized help by a government is bad and a waste of time or money. Unfortunately, many of the people who object to this organized (government in this case) help are Christians. They either feel that the unfortunate people are in their situation because they aren't working hard enough or are being punished for being bad. If the government helps the unfortunate people, they are taking money away from all the hard working people and giving it to people who are lazy or choose to be homeless. I know one guy who, being against any government aid to the unfortunate, said he was more likely than most to put money in the cup of some poor beggar than most other people. Does he think that is really enough? Does he not see that to really help someone, it takes a concerted, continuing effort - something that is organized and not based on the whim of someone passing by?

Well, the true meaning of Christmas is that a baby was born of a virgin in a stable. That baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was God with us (Immanuel). His name was Jesus and he was born to give us hope and to show us that God would forgive our sins (we are all sinners, by the way). He was, and is, God incarnate. He said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind (Matthew 22:37). He also said that the second commandment was like it: to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). For the passage in context, see Matthew 22:36-40 NIV. If we truly believe that this country and its government were founded on Christian principles, we as a country need to repent of our sins and start loving our God and our neighbors. We need to be helping our neighbors in an organized way. We can do great things if we can work together. If we insist on doing everything our own, disorganized way, we cannot accomplish the things we are capable of.

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